Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let hope give us endurance



~from a second-century sermon

And so, my brethren, let us do the will of the Father who has called us to life. Let us try harder for virtue and abandon bad habits which pave the way for crimes to follow. For if we try hard to do good, peace will always be with us. That is why men can never be at peace while they are dragged along by human fears and put present pleasure above the promise of the future. They are ignorant of how much torment worldly indulgence brings and how much delight is promised in the future.

If they alone behaved like that, it might be tolerable; but they go one step further and imbue the souls of the innocent with their perverse teachings – not realising that this will condemn them twice, once for themselves and once for their hearers.

Therefore let us serve God with a pure heart, and we shall be justified. On the other hand, if we do not serve him, disbelieving in his promises, we shall be miserable. For in the words of the prophecy: Unhappy those who are undecided, those who hesitate in their hearts and say “We have heard these things before, in our fathers’ time, but now we look for them day after day and see nothing”. Fools, compare yourselves to a plant: a vine, for instance. First its leaves fall, then comes the shoot, then a small unripe grape, and at last a mature and ripe fruit. In the same way my people has endured turmoil and suffering, and later will receive good from it.

So let us not be in two minds, my brethren, but let us endure in hope so that we receive our due reward. God is faithful and he has promised to give everyone the due reward of his actions. So if we have acted righteously in God’s eyes we shall enter into his kingdom and receive what he has promised, that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man.

Let us expect the kingdom of God hourly in love and righteousness, seeing that we do not know the day of his coming. Let us do penance. At present we are full of malice and madness, so now let us revive, let us come back to life, to good life. Let us wipe off the slime of our old sins and by doing heartfelt penance let us recover our health. Let us not be sycophantic. Let us seek men’s favour solely by our righteousness, both in the Church and outside it, so that the holy Name is not blasphemed because of us.

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